Wednesday, 23 September 2009

NCP Marina Mandalina’s Adriatic Boat Show In Šibenik

Croatia Cruising Companion - Adriatic Boat Show Sibenik As luck would have it, just as we finished our last posting on the subject of autumn boat shows in Croatia, NCP Marina Mandalina sent us some photos and a press release about their Adriatic Boat Show which took place in September.

Thanks to them for the photos and information – edited extracts below.


The Adriatic Boat Show 2009 [ABS] organized by Nautical Center Prgin, took place from 17th to 21st of September in Mandalina Marina. ABS actively promotes Croatian boatbuilding and the megayacht sector in Croatian nautical tourism and includes all types of new and used vessels – from small boats to mega-yachts – offering every sailor something according to his needs and interests.

The Show was visited by numerous lovers of nautical business, boats and the sea. Visitors took advantage of the opportunity to see 150 boats in the sea and 30 on dry docks, as well as a rich offer of various nautical equipment, outboard and inboard engines, sport and fishing equipment as well as clothing and diving equipment. As well as Croatian boat builders, also represented were the major world’s producers of vessels with brands Fairline, Princess, Sunseeker, Elan, Grand Soleil, Beneteau, Jeanneau, X-Yachts etc.

There was an excellent atmosphere throughout all five days of the boat show helped by those in front of and behind the stands. Despite a challenging business climate there were 12 percent more exhibitors than last year. Participants expressed appreciation for the event because of the number and diversity of vessels and equipment, the appearance of the overall exhibition area and the friendly attitude of the organisors towards exhibitors, journalists and visitors alike.

The key was the presence of Croatian nautical companies and the fact that the Croatian market continues to expand. There was high number of quality vessels offered by members of an established and reputable Croatian boatbuilding industry. Through the congress programme of ABS, Croatian boat builders have sent a clear message to the Croatian government asking for the immediate reduction of extra taxation on vessels up to 7 meters in length, as well as more regulation in the mega yacht sector.

The Adriatic Boat Show also this year took place under the auspices of the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Tourism, whose representatives attended the opening ceremony, and with the support of the City and Sibenik - Knin County.

The slogan of ABS - "the sea of nautical opportunity" – covers a wide range and offers a lot, so there is no doubt that visitors and exhibitors are already looking forward towards an even larger boat show – the 3rd Adriatic Boat Show – in 2010.


EXHIBITION AREA – 160.000 m2 – Marina Mandalina & Yacht Club



VISITORS – 22.000


NCP Group gathers 10 different companies specialising in the nautical industry and is considered one of the leaders in the Mediterranean marine industry. Founded in 1995 as a yacht charter company, today, NCP has the most exclusive charter fleet in the region. NCP developed Mandalina Marina, which is the first mega yacht destination in Croatia, and NCP Repair Shipyard, which is recognized as a respected partner in refit, repair and maintenance of yachts up to 75 m in length. Further, Marinetek NCP is a producer of high quality Marinetek pontoons offering also an overall service for developing marina projects. NCP’s most recent project is the Adriatic Boat Show – an international nautical show of new and used vessels that puts emphasis on promoting Croatia as a mega yacht destination. For more information, please visit and .

Croatia’s Autumn Boat Shows

Croatia Cruising Companion - Biograd Boat Show

NCP Marina Mandalina in Šibenik have already staged their Adriatic Boat Show, their second annual autumn boat show in Croatia. First to organise a boat show at this time of year was Marina Kornati in Biograd and this event is now in its eleventh year. This year it runs from 22nd to 25th October and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. It’s not a huge affair but there’s plenty to see and entertain. And if you do go there, co-author of the Croatia Cruising Companion, John Nash, has a stand there with a small stock of books so be sure to go and say hello. You’ll find him on the Marina Facility Solutions stand.

Readers of our recent posting on Croatia Online, about Biograd’s new hotel IN may be interested to see it in the background of this photo, taken at last year’s show when it was just a building site. Looking back at the other photos of the show, we were reminded that, in construction phase, it was called Hotel Inero. This  explains a little of the new name which, you will see from the posting, is causing some confusion.

For more information on the Biograd Boat Show, link to Marina Kornati - Biograd Boat Show

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sv Filip i Jakov Revisited

Croatia Online - Sv Filip i Jakov

When we researched and wrote our Croatia Cruising Companion  (CCC), we did most of our sailing outside the high season, for obvious reasons. It’s not until you see a Croatian destination in and out of the summer season, however, that you get a real flavour for it. Thus, although we have been to Sv Filip i Jakov several times, it’s one of the few places that we had not seen in full summer swing until now.

As we mentioned in the introduction to this destination, on page 39 of the CCC, it’s a “compact, well-cared for settlement with a thriving tourist industry, centred around some large hotels on the outskirts of town”. However that only tells part of the onshore story – in the summer the pine tree fringed fields that we saw behind the long main beach, some of it sandy, become thriving and busy campsites with tents, caravans and mobile homes closely packed into their pitches, about four or five deep. Though that’s a few too many happy campers for our liking, it’s a good spot with plenty of shade and enough beach for everyone.

Amidst all the cafes, bars and restaurants of fairly standard offerings, La Habana, pictured, is a popular nightspot which draws local crowds as well as those from further afield. Cuban themed, the large terrace offers pizza slices, as well as a wide range of cocktails, whilst you sway to the rhythm.

As we state in the CCC, the harbour is only suitable for small craft with depths of up to 2 metres on the inside of the breakwater, up to 4 metres on the outside. So, if you’re in search of some nightlife, and want to escape the family crowd in Biograd, perhaps berth overnight in one of the two marinas in Biograd and take a short taxi ride to Sv Filip i Jakov, along with several other partygoers.

For more information on the village (and some very pleasant folk music) go to the Sv Filip i Jakov Tourist Board site.

For onshore news on nearby Pakoštane, follow this link to Croatia Online’s latest posting.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Agana Marina, Near Trogir – Change Of Ownership

Croatia Cruising Companion - Agana Marina

Agana Marina is situated in the quiet and picturesque village of Marina, at the end of the western inlet of Trogirski Zaljev (Trogir Bay). The marina used to be run by the municipality and there was a long history of dispute over ownership resulting in several amusing incidents that were probably far from amusing, at the time, for those involved.

It appears that all has now been resolved and the marina was sold to a private investor last year. Some changes have already been made including a new concrete pier, and there are others in the pipeline.

Pending further progress however, it seems that the marina can only accept Croatia flagged yachts on annual berths, for the time being, though we are told that transit berths for all comers are available.

Ashore, the Croatia Cruising Companion mentions that Marina’s fortress tower is “now a hotel..recently changed hands… and needs to have a little money spent on it.” It looks like some investment has taken place but the jury’s still out on the end result – the  English pages of the hotel website - are still under construction but the menu looks pretty swish and so do the interiors. Not too much else has changed onshore – a draconian parking system was introduced last year but was certainly not in evidence during our visit.

For more information on Yachting Sport Agana, to give  Marina’s marina its proper name, click here.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

New Marina Near Trogir, Croatia

Croatia Cruising Companion - New Marina Trogir

One of our first discoveries during our recent trip around the Croatian coastline and islands, was a new marina near Trogir. In fact we have been following progress closely for a few years but were delighted to find that  Baotić Yacht Club Seget is now open for business, albeit to a limited extent until all works are completed.

Licenses and planning permissions take time in Croatia as they do elsewhere but the Marina is taking transit customers (those that want to moor overnight), and bookings for annual berths that will be available from April 2010.

The Baotić organisation already runs marinas in Dugi Otok and Baška Voda and has great plans for their newest marina in Seget just outside Trogir. A few toilets and showers are already available, as are the services of one of the few lifts in Croatia that can cope with catamarans. Indoor boat showroom, after sail club, swimming pool, restaurant, shops, service area, additional showers and toilets, and beauty centre should be available in spring 2010. For more information on this and sister marinas, check out the newly launched website Cromarina (English). For more on what Seget has to offer onshore, see our latest posting on Croatia Online.


We took today’s photo of the new marina on the way to Šibenik, from Trogir, along the windy road that leads to the fast inland road to Šibenik. Not far from Šibenik, this road also reveals a gastronomic delight which we’ll be featuring shortly on Croatia Online as sailors will find it difficult to reach. As the photo shows, the new marina is roughly opposite Trogir’s shipyard on the western tip of Čiovo island that’s closest to the mainland. To reach it from the east yachts will need to go around the south side of Čiovo Island, since the bridge that joins Trogir to Čiovo is too low for sailing vessels.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Croatia Junior Optimist Championship

Whilst readers are waiting for us to sort out our notes and photos of our recent summer trip around the mainland and islands (see Croatia Online for a taster), here's a photo of the Croatia Junior Optimist Championship, for children up to 12 years old, which took place from Kaštela Marina. This link will take you direct to a report and photos on the Marina Kaštela site - It's in Croatian but if you google it you should get the option for a translation.
Thanks to co-author John Nash of Marina Facility Solutions for telling us about the event and to Jure Vujević for today's photo.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Summer 2009 Highlights And Updates

Croatia Cruising Companion readers will have to wait just a week or so longer for the most up to date information on cruising Croatia.

A few weeks exploring the Dalmatian Coast and Islands have revealed a couple of great new finds and news of things to come. Reassuringly however, many sailors we have bumped into along the way, armed with their Croatia Cruising Companions, have confirmed our experience - the pace of change has been much slower than it was whilst we were writing the book and thus it still remains one of the most up to date and detailed sources of information for sailing Dalmatia and for all travellers wanting to explore some of Dalmatia's more remote islands.

We'll be back to work in a week's time, sharing our latest discoveries with you, and on sister site

Today's photo shows an expectant harbour master in Vrboska, Hvar, waiting for his next customer.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Number One For Books On Croatia Today - Amazon

    Front Cover

Writing a Cruising Companion, in any useful detail, with any diligence and passion, is a labour of love. Croatia made it a joy.

Keeping the Croatia Cruising Companion up to date, on this site and for the next edition, requires little more than a continuance of the original spirit and diligence, ie a lot more hard work!

There’s no lack of motivation from our rankings on Amazon, who seem to rate our book, over several months, way ahead of most other books on Croatia – land or shore based – so we’re celebrating another first place tonight, mindful that we’ve plenty to do to maintain the ranking in the months and year’s to come.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sibenik’s Marina Mandalina – Latest News

NCP signing - Mark Lande Goran Prgin Husnu Akhan (2)

Regular readers will know that Sibenik’s Marina Mandalina features regularly on this site and Croatia Online.  In February 2009, the international marina developer and operator, IGY, together with NCP (the original sole owners of Marina Mandalina), announced plans to add 65 megayacht berths to the existing 350 wet berths  and 50 dry berths, transforming it into the new Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club – Croatia’s first dedicated superyacht marina.

The latest news is that they’ve been joined by Turkey’s Dogus Group, who will be both an equity partner and oversee the construction of the new development which is scheduled to include a yacht club, residential developments, resort accommodation, modern shopping facilities, dining and nightlife.

Excerpts from NCP’s press release are as below:

The signature “marina village” at the Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club is currently in the planning stages and will be further developed by Doğuş, IGY and NCP over the coming months. The project’s architecture will combine a contemporary Mediterranean style with public open spaces and gardens to provide an attractive setting for a bal­anced resort development. Buildings will be intertwined with cascading waterways while their juxtaposition will blend to create an architec­tural statement of visionary design and quality. All the upland elements will be situated topographically to take advantage of the natural elevated land, and, more importantly, to provide ceremonial focal entry points to the development.”

“We are pleased to align with the Doğuş Group, as we continue the development of the new Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club,” said Andrew Farkas, founder and chairman of IGY. “This agreement creates a very strong partnership comprising the foremost Croatian maritime brand, a leading regional conglomerate with a strong maritime brand in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the world’s premier marina developer and operator. Doğuş’ financial strength, as well as their tremendous expertise in construction and success with projects of a similar nature, make them an ideal partner alongside IGY and NCP in the Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club.”  

“We are equally excited about this partnership and the economic benefits that it will bring to our community,” added Goran Prgin, president of NCP Group. “We welcome the Doğuş Group to Croatia and look forward to working with them to continue to position Dalmatia as the Mediterranean’s top megayacht destination.”

“The Doğuş Group is pleased to enter the Croatian market with such an exciting project and such tremendous partners,” said Ferit Sahenk, chairman of Doğuş Group. “We are actively engaged in similar projects in Turkey and are certain that with the involvement of IGY, NCP and Doğuş, the new Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club will become a showcase destination for the region.”

The Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club is one of the most complete, full-service nautical destinations in the region and encompasses not only the marina, but the NCP Shipyard with 24-hour assistance and technical services, NCP Charter with more than 60 vessels and the NCP Sailing School. Additionally, the facility offers nearby fuelling and on-site grocery for provisioning. The marina is situated in the scenic coastal town of Sibenik on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.


The marina will continue to operate normally while the development progresses and for more information visit the following sites:

IGY Mandalina Marina

NCP Sibenik

Dogus Group

Croatia Online - Superyacht Owners Guide

Croatia Cruising Companion - Sibenik Regatta (if you look carefully at the photos you will spot NCP’s yacht)


Many thanks to NCP for today’s photo which shows the key partners at the signing ceremony, attended by the President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Stjepan Mesić. From left to right – IGY’s Mark Lande, NCP’s Goran Prgin and Dogus’s Husnu Akhan

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cruising Croatia For Families

Croatia Cruising Companion - Optimists

On Croatia Online today, we looked at child friendly hotels in Croatia, which inspired us to think about how suitable a sailing holiday in Croatia might be for families with children of varying ages.

Earlier in the year, we interviewed a few experts for an article on sailing in Croatia for Time Out. When we asked them about taking children along, the consensus seemed to be that parents would probably be too distracted worrying about the safety of kids of five and under, and teenagers might prove hard to entertain. However, on a family holiday, if the charter includes hiring a local skipper, the experts told us it was the skipper’s job to keep everyone happy - with adolescents that means making sure they were fully involved, and leaving plenty of time for swimming and other beach activities. If you don’t take a skipper then that’s down to you, the parents!

That view has been endorsed by a number of families we’ve met who’ve tried it. Better still, a family sailing trip seems to bring everyone together. Readers might be interested to read a very touching report on the website of legendary sailor and prolific author, Jimmy Cornell. Noonsite includes the story of an Australian family who lived the dream for five weeks, sailing around Croatia, and considered it the best experience they had ever had as a family.

If you’ve only got a couple of weeks then perhaps the answer is to make sure you provide a variety of destinations and activities that suits everyone, and that’s very easy to do in Croatia. If the kids show signs of getting bored, perhaps spend a day at Marina Kornati in Biograd, ACI's Marina in Vodice or Marina Borik, near Zadar, and let the children take advantage of the nearby child friendly beaches, hotels and facilities while the adults chill out over a cocktail or two.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Croatia – Getting There Update

Croatia Cruising Companion - Ferry Korcula

Today on Croatia Online, we reported on the latest news on flights to Croatia and it seems there are some good last minute deals to be had, even though we’re approaching peak season.

If you’re planning a sailing holiday then probably Split or  Zadar are the airports at the centre of the most popular sailing areas, and a high density of marinas hosting charter fleets. Those travelling from the UK seem likely to get the best deals from EasyJet (Split) or Ryanair (Zadar), but don’t discount the national flag carriers (eg Croatia Airlines and British Airways) in your search. American readers should note there are an increasing number of options for them, even if it means a normally short detour via Zagreb to get a regular domestic connecting flight.

However, the cost of the flight itself has to be weighed against the logistics of the charter and the possibility of an extra hotel night or two if the timings aren’t right. Some charter companies will offer a degree of flexibility on the normal Saturday afternoon start and it always pays to have a chat with your charter manager to see what’s possible.

There are, of course other ways of getting to Croatia from the UK, including driving. A few years ago, a cheap flight to Ancona in Italy and a ferry to Split were one of the few low cost options but, now that the low cost carriers have recognised Croatia’s potential, that’s not necessary. For those from the UK, the ferry is a great option for getting to see the best of Croatia as a land based tourist within Croatia, but not really a practicality for getting there. Italians, however, have a vast number of ferry options for crossing the Adriatic, though many choose to sail their own boats across, or drive to marinas in northern Croatia, where their boats are berthed, and sail down to Dalmatia.

For travellers with some spare time and a budget to die for, maybe a trip on the  Orient Express to Venice and then a one way superyacht charter from Venice to Dubrovnik or Montenegro?

Croatia is so much easier to get to now, in the summer season – more flights, great new motorway, ferry connections as good as ever, but still improving - that the discerning traveller has a vast amount of choice. Car hire prices however aren’t amongst the cheapest in Europe.

Follow the link to Croatia Online, in the opening paragraph, for direct links to airlines operating in Croatia and for the main Croatian airports. Below are a few others that may help:

Jadrolinija – Croatia’s main ferry company for international routes and local connections to the islands

Croatian Motorways – for information on motorway travel in Croatia

Croatia Online - Driving To The UK  - for some first hand tips on travelling to Croatia by car.


Today’s photo is of Korčula town where the ferry overnights not far from the local boats.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Onshore News – Dalmatian Coast and Islands

Croatia Cruising Companion - Onshore Sibenik

Whilst the Croatia Cruising Companion seems to be the book of choice for those focusing on sailing Dalmatia by sea, we’ve yet to find another resource that attempts to cover the Dalmatian Coast and islands onshore comprehensively. We welcome all contributions and competition on this as, despite our best attempts, and blanket coverage when we wrote the book, there are some remote islands that we get to revisit only periodically for news and updates for this site.

For landlubbers that may be attracted to the more deserted Croatian islands along the Dalmatian coast we’d suggest a copy of the Croatia Cruising Companion and the following links on sister site Croatia Online to give you a flavour of Croatia and some of its quirks and practicalities.

Croatia In August

Solta The Island Of Olives

Falconry In Croatia

Cost Of Living In Croatia

Split Hotel Update

Croatia's Best Kept Secrets

Cricket In  Croatia

Top 20 Island Gems

Sunday Times Best Sailing Holidays

Best Souvenirs Of Croatia

Croatia's Natural Splendour

Zadar's Newest Hotel

Oxford And Cambridge Boat Race, Split

 UNESCO In Croatia

Browse, prepare, research and enjoy!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Shore Based Fuel Stations In Croatia

Croatia Cruising Companion - Fuel Station Sumartin, Brac

A reader recently contacted us, see posting below, to let us know that the fuel station in Milna,  Brač, was open on a bank holiday, for longer hours than we suggested in the Croatia Cruising Companion. Better that way than the other way round but it does seem that many of the fuel stations have extended their hours of operation, particularly on Bank Holidays.

We’ve found some relatively new, web based information, on shore based fuel stations in Croatia and the following link, Adriasail – Fuel, will take you to a summary of opening hours, contact details and depths for most stations. If you then click on the name of the individual fuel station you will get more detailed information to cover the different seasons. Interestingly enough, the fuel station concerned shows the same opening hours as in the CCC for the month of June so it may just be that it wasn’t a “proper” bank holiday or July started early on Brač

As with all types of important information it pays to double check. In the introduction, on page 15, we suggest that you phone ahead to check opening times, depths, etc for the fuel station you intend to visit, and provide telephone numbers wherever available. We took our information directly from the owners and operators of the fuel station, in most cases and particularly when there were any discrepancies between a number of different sources, and occasionally a phone call may reveal that there is work going on in the harbour which puts the station out of action for a period.


Today’s photo is of the fuel station in Sumartin on Brač island.

Readers’ Update – Hvar and Brac

Croatia Cruising Companion - Stari Grad Below are some observations from readers who contacted us recently after returning from a week’s sailing in the Split area.


A super book which we found invaluable on our recent week's charter out of Split. I thought the following notes might be useful to your readers.

On Hvar we overnighted on the anchor in the small bay, Zavala, north of Rt Oplovac on the way down to Stari Grad. [CCC  page 170 and see note below]. It’s a beautiful and secluded spot  and very well sheltered. Also I think its walkable to Stari Grad which gets pretty busy in the high-season.

From Palmizana on Sv Klements [CCC page 165] we hiked the less-than 400 metres over the hill to the restaurants you mentioned. We used the one next to Gastionica Zori which was OK and much cheaper!

Later we were in Milna on Brac and noted that the fuelling stations stayed open all afternoon albeit it was a public holiday. 

Anthony Warren, Brentford

July 2009


Thanks to Anthony for his comments and we’ll be following up the opening hours of fuel stations in a later posting since most fuel stations now seem to operate longer hours in the summer season.

Zavala, the inlet near Stari Grad (see above), is not to be confused with Uvala Zavala and the town of Zavala on the south side of Hvar island [CCC page 177]. Croatia does have a habit of using the same name for a number of places. Hence you have a Milna on Hvar as well as the better known Milna on Brač island!

Today’s photo is of Stari Grad Hvar.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Cruising In Classic Style

Croatia Cruising Companion - Dolin

Croatia, particularly Dalmatia, is at its best when explored from the sea but many of us just think of modern yacht charters as the means of discovery. Croatia is however a nation of seafarers which values, and remains in tune with, its nautical heritage. Enterprising locals, who choose to provide floating accommodation that makes the most of this heritage, deserve a wider audience.

Captain Ivica Benić is one such entrepreneur and has lovingly restored a classic gullet, Dolin, for tailor made cruises for parties of up to 10 people. Known to his English friends as Johnny, Ivica was born and raised in Australia, but eventually answered the call of his Croatian roots.

Dolin was originally built in 1946 and spent her first two years transporting wine from the Dalmatian islands before going into service for the Croatian ferry company  Jadrolinija, as one of its first passenger ships. She spent the next forty plus years as a cargo ship transporting goods to the islands of Cres and Lošinj, and later sand from the island of Krk.  In 1977, Ivica’s family became the proud owners using Dolin as a cargo and excursion boat until, in 2008, she underwent a complete refit for her new role as a luxury classic cruiser.

Though Dolin was refitted from the deck up, the hull is the original and has lost none of its former glory. Made from oak that was “seasoned” in mud and sea water for a couple of years, the hull was designed and crafted from the finest wood in an age when boats were built to outlive their owners. Dolin, however, makes many concessions to modern living elsewhere – air conditioning, 5 comfortable en-suite cabins and spacious, well fitted common areas.

Ivica decided to focus on comfort rather than cramming as many cabins in as possible, and for that reason also, Dolin is geared to groups rather than just trying to fill individual cabins. The desire to blend classic style with contemporary needs means Ivica also provides a well stocked kitchen, and a chef with international experience as well as the expected expertise in the preparation of local traditional Dalmatian dishes.

Dolin’s base is Zadar though, by arrangement, you can start and/or finish elsewhere. Itineraries are flexible too and a number of activities are also available by arrangement – diving, fishing, rafting, etc.

A one week basic charter costs range from €5,400 to €9,100 depending on the time of year, for up to 10 people in double cabins. You will pay an extra fixed fee of  €1,000 for cleaning, mooring in town ports, tourist taxes, fuel, etc, but if your group specifically wants to berth overnight in a marina, the marina fees will be extra – see  Croatia Cruising Companion - Town Ports And Harbours In Croatia for the pros and cons of marinas and town ports.

For half board add €230 per person per week and for full board add €320. You can also take advantage of an inclusive “domestic drinks” package which includes Croatian wines, beers and spirits; soft drinks, mineral water, coffee, tea and juices for an extra €170 per person per week or an equivalent but non alcoholic package at €90 per person per week. Otherwise you will pay for drinks at the bar prices unless you choose, as a group, to provide all your own drinks for a corkage fee of €600 for the week.

By my calculations, that means a group of ten, can cruise in classic style for a week, in early May or late December, for €680 per person; or with food and drink all in, €1,170, which compares pretty well with equivalent hotel costs.

For a full price list, boat layout and design, and more information, contact details are as follows:

Captain Ivica Benic
Mate Balote 84
23000 Zadar
Phone  + 385 (o) 23 331 340
Fax       + 385 (o) 23 337 157  (capt.) Panjol
Mob.    + 385 0) 95 901 7455

We haven’t tried it yet but it’s now on the list and we’re always happy to give a resourceful entrepreneur, with something quite special to offer, a little helping hand.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Croatians Cross The English Channel In a Classic Rowing Boat

2maraton2008_ lada boats

This morning we read an article in the Croatian Times reporting on an astonishing feat by a team of Croatian rowers yesterday. In a classic rowing boat called a lađa, pronounced ladja, 16 rowers, one drummer (to keep the rowing beat) and two coxes apparently made the crossing of the English Channel in 3.4 hours.

This afternoon we finally found a UK site, Kent Online, that corroborated the story but differs substantially on crew numbers and has the  video evidence to prove it which shows 8 rowers, a drummer and helmsman battling the waves.

These rowing boats have been used for transport on the Neretva River for centuries and you can read more about them by following this link - Ladja Marathon – and the one above. Thanks also to them for today’s photo of the annual marathon on the Neretva River.

The Neretva Delta covers around 20,000 hectares of Croatia and Bosnia and is one of the few remaining wetlands in Europe making it an important Ramsar Site and a great bird watching destination. It is also being considered for Nature Park status though that comes with additional restrictions and the idea is not universally popular with the locals. 

For those interested in bird watching go to sister site Croatia Online - Bird Watching in Croatia. For those more interested in the remarkable achievement of the Croatian rowers we will endeavour to hunt down some more information and hope the UK press does it justice. In the meantime, rowers of a more mainstream style may be interested in the following posting - Croatia Online - Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race In Split.


Readers of the Croatia Cruising Companion  should note that the Neretva Delta is not suitable for sailing boats. Very few of Croatia’s rivers are but the Krka River is a notable exception and well worth exploration as it passes the magnificent city of Šibenik, provides a great freshwater marina - ACI Skradin – and of course leads to the spectacular Krka National Park


Aficionados of tennis may be interested to read about Croatia’s prowess in this sport by linking to Croatia Online - Wimbledon And Tennis In Croatia

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Weather Forecasts In Croatia

Adriatic Sea - DHMZ

We recently had an email from a reader unsure as to how the areas of Croatia were identified in weather forecasts. Croatian weather and forecasts are covered in pages 8 and 9 of the introduction to the Croatia Cruising Companion and VHF broadcasts will normally identify a city - Split or Šibenik for example. However on sites such as The Croatian Meteorological And Hydrological Service, references are made to the Northern, Central and Southern Adriatic.

We have taken the liberty of including the map from the above website to show that, in fact, readers sailing in the area covered by the Croatia Cruising Companion need mostly focus on the Central Adriatic Region, though the small area of Croatia, south of Dubrovnik, falls in the Southern Adriatic region.

This classification of regions is not to be confused with the division of the Dalmatian region into Northern, Middle and Southern Dalmatia. The whole of Dalmatia is covered by the Croatia Cruising Companion and Dalmatia, as a whole, can roughly be said to equate to the Central Adriatic Region above.

These definitions probably sound more complicated than they are. In practice you will find that every marina has a daily weather report available for the area, and most tourist offices will print these out on demand. Plovput are responsible for the radio broadcast of weather and navigational information and operate three radio stations – Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik – which broadcast this information 3 times a day in English.

The Croatian Tourist Board also has a good weather map on its site for looking at the weather in specific destinations. We’re sorry to see that today, whilst the UK is basking in sunshine for the opening days of Wimbledon, the whole of the Croatian coast seems to be suffering from “variably cloudy with thundershowers”!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Town Ports And Harbours in Croatia

CCC - Rogac Harbour

A few days ago we posted a review of Marinas In Croatia and pointed out that, although some marinas offer the ultimate in luxury, many town harbours are close to marinas in standard and usually half the price. However there are a few differences:

1. Town or village harbours are normally run by a small company that gets a concession from the government. They are not so easy to find on the web or book ahead. In the Croatia Cruising Companion we’ve done our best to give all the contact details, but sometimes that’s just a mobile phone number. In most cases you’ll find it’s better to turn up and find a space, though in the high season it’s worth getting there a little earlier.

2. Some local harbours are just too shallow for yachts and exclusively geared towards local fishing boats so check depths carefully. Again, in the Croatia Cruising Companion we’ve identified, as far as we can, the areas for yachts and those for local boats. However you’ll normally find someone ready to help you as soon as they spot you coming – normally the concession manager.

3. In all the town ports of any size you will find a source of electricity and water, normally in the form of a concrete bollard or two. In some cases though, these are at the shallow end. Some ports have pedestals for almost every berth but in a few smaller ports a degree of resourcefulness is required. In Kukljica on Ugljan island, our neighbours tapped into the electricity supply at the security office, even though there are pedestals on the inner pontoons; and there’s a small secluded bay up the Krka estuary, which for obvious reasons should remain nameless, where the locals are “wired” to the lamp-posts!

4. Check shelter carefully, (covered for each port in the Croatia Cruising Companion). Whilst you will find that nearly all marinas are sheltered from all weather conditions, the town harbours and moorings don’t always afford all round protection, particularly where the best mooring options for yachts are towards the outer end of the harbour,  and sometimes on the outside of the breakwater.

5. In some municipal ports there are toilets and showers but this is the exception rather than the rule. In nearly all of them you will find lazy lines to tie up securely. You will normally be approached to pay your fees when you arrive and can expect to receive an invoice which will also include the nominal tourist tax charge for your stay. Also expect to hand over your passports briefly, and occasionally your other papers, so that the details can be taken. The overnight fee usually includes reasonable electricity and water where available. Out of season and in some smaller harbours, you may simply be expected to dine at the local restaurant in return for a berth. 

6. As we suggest above, the fee is normally around half the amount you would pay at a marina though there are some exceptions where the standard of facilities are higher. The Brijuni islands in Istria, a favourite for superyachts, are one example; Lastovo is another.

On the whole, you get the best of both worlds in most town harbours – a comfortable berth at a reasonable price, but you still feel part of the local scene. Below are a few of our favourites:

Pučišća on Brač island – Pučišća seems to be oblivious to tourism though very welcoming to visitors. It’s a thriving town as a result of the white Brač stone it quarries and there’s evidence of this everywhere including statues and intricately carved stone lamp-posts. The long narrow bay has plenty of space and the depths for yachts, and electricity and water pedestals are generously scattered around it. There’s also a good supply of bars and restaurants and our only problem was the chiming of bells, from a number of churches, throughout the night.

Sali on Dugi Otok – Sali is picture postcard perfect at sunset with the pastel hues of the houses reflected on the water. Electricity and water are available and there’s a boatyard and engine repair facilities. No shortage of cafés and restaurants either and, as with Pučišća above, you can expect to find life all year round though its prosperity centres on fishing and fish processing.

Vrboska on Hvar – Vrboska is a sleepy village that calls itself Little Venice because of a number of bridges over the inlet. It also has an ACI marina (see Marinas In Croatia) but the enthusiastic harbour manager knows every trick in the book when it comes to diverting boats hovering around the marina entrance. Though Vrboska has a few bars and restaurants, for more facilities it’s a lovely walk of about an hour along the coast (and past some lovely houses) to Jelsa, a bigger and upcoming town with a ferry service to Split and Brač. Jelsa also has good berthing but it’s exposed to the Bora and the berths are beside a clutch of noisy restaurants so not the place for a quiet night!

Prvić Luka on Prvić Island – The Šibenik Archipelago has many hidden gems. Prvić Luka, our favourite, is a charming small town but has a newish boutique hotel, Maestral, that also act as a base for swimming holidays (Swimtrek). Berthing is inside the breakwater on lazylines and there are toilets and electricity and water available. If you fancy spending a little more time in this area, Zlarin and Krapanj island are well worth a visit and have good facilities. However note that Krapanj acts as a base for flotilla holidays and therefore the lovely Hotel Spongiola (which also provides the berthing facilities) can get a little raucous on changeover night.

Bol on Brač – These berths are not the most sheltered in all conditions but Bol is such a picturesque and compact town that it’s worth the trip. Electricity and water are available and if the weather conditions are not right you can always get a boat trip from Jelsa which lies  opposite (see above). Bear in mind that the iconic Zlatni Rat beach, featured in most tourist literature photographs, and popular for wind surfing and other water sports, is a good walk away from the town centre. Also note that, despite its appearance on the photographs, its a pebble and not a sandy beach.

There are plenty of other great stops – Vis town on Vis island is one of the most popular, but those above are some of the less obvious. Today’s photo is of Rogač, the main ferry port on Šolta Island which provides a great illustration of how yachts and local boats co-exist in harmony on a quiet island. Šolta, the island, hides a number of gems and you can read much more about that on sister site Croatia Online. The link takes you to the last of four postings on this very special island just a short sail from Split.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Croatia – A Place For All Sailors?

SC trip

Many people seem to feel that a sailing holiday is beyond their reach, either because they don’t know how to sail, or because they imagine it’s way beyond their budget. This posting aims to dispel a few myths.

Whilst a round the world trip might not be a good idea for a novice and nervous group of sailors, a sailing holiday in Croatia could be just the job. Obviously you have to pay attention to the weather and basic navigational and safety rules, but if you charter a yacht with a skipper you can learn as much or as little as you like about sailing whilst exploring Croatia the way it was meant to be discovered – by sea.

As for budgets, if you do your research carefully you will find plenty of bargains to be had this year. If you compare the total cost of the charter holiday with what it would cost you to stay in a hotel, you could get a pleasant surprise.

Croatia, particularly the Dalmatian Coast and Islands, is particularly friendly to a variety of nautical travellers.  The many islands mostly lie close to the mainland so you are never very far from land if the sea roughs up. Similarly, it’s easy to pick a route to stay in flat water if the weather conditions change. If you happen to be in a group of mixed bravado and tastes then you can leave some of the group in a fascinating historic city while the others go chasing the winds in the nearest channel. If some like to party and some don’t then seek the peace and quiet of the Pakleni Islands and send the party lovers by water taxi to Hvar town. Deserted bays may be the order of the day for romantic couples, and for families perhaps Bol on Brač, or Vodice and Biograd on the mainland, provide the ideal children’s playground for a daytime stop.

Those that haven’t sailed before often aren’t aware that charter yachts are relatively luxurious – the floating equivalent of three star hotels, without the room service but with a good sized kitchen. So if you just want to potter around and enjoy cocktails on the sun deck then you can do that in style too.

We’ve yet to meet any sailors, novice or otherwise, that haven’t had a great time when they’ve sailed with a skipper. The skipper takes all the responsibility, makes himself scarce when necessary, and knows exactly where to go to keep everyone happy. Those that choose a bareboat charter (without a skipper) also can’t fail to have a good time in Croatia if their sailing skills are up to it and they find other means of getting the best of local knowledge.

Below are a selection of  links to charter companies of which we’ve had excellent first hand reports. However the quality in Croatia is very high, as long as you stay with licensed charter companies, so you’re unlikely to go far wrong:

Adriasail Charter

Dalmatia Charter

Sail Croatia

And here are ten tips for making the most of your sailing holiday:

1. Travel light – pack your gear in foldable bags so they stow easily. Include a pair of jelly shoes for the pebble beaches.

2. Beware the sun – make sure a bimini (sun cover) comes as standard on your yacht and that you take a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc

3. Embrace the unexpected – don’t be to rigid in your itinerary so you can enjoy the ad hoc experiences which will make your holiday

4. Treat yourself to a bit of luxury half way through – maybe an overnight stop at a marina as a change from the quiet anchorages, see Croatia Cruising Companion - Marinas In Croatia

5. Learn a little Croatian  - it will make the locals happy though most speak good English. For a handy phrasebook link to the Croatian Language School

6. Leave everything except Marmite, Branston Pickle and teabags at home. The local produce is excellent, particularly olive oil, eggs, all fruit and veg, smoked ham (prsut), cheese and of course fish

7. Communications – for a relaxing holiday it’s best to leave the laptop behind but you’ll find WiFi in an increasing number of marinas. Mobile telephone signals are good in most places too.

8. Respect the weather – if you’re skipper suggests shelter to avoid a summer storm then he’ll almost always be able to find you a nearby town with plenty to explore. At worst it will be a sheltered bay with a restaurant and bars.

9. Prepare and do your research so that you can let your skipper know what sort of places you like.

10. Don’t forget to pack your copy of the Croatia Cruising Companion!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Marinas In Croatia

Those of you about to set off on your sailing holiday in Croatia, may already have decided on your overnight stops. Just where do you stay to maximise your enjoyment of one of the world's best cruising destinations? If you've novices onboard or appreciate the full gamut of overnight facilities, you may lean towards the bon homie and luxury of Croatia's 50 plus marinas. In that case, what do you need to know?

All of Dalmatia's marinas are covered, in depth, in the Croatia Cruising Companion, as well as all other feasible locations for overnight stays. Northern Croatia has an even higher density of marinas than Dalmatia but that's mostly because they are handy for the Germans, Austrians and Italians to drive too. Particularly at the beginning of August, you'll see fleets of foreign flagged yachts heading south to the sailing heartland of Croatia - Dalmatia. Wherever you are, there won't be a marina too far away though the coverage is thinnest in southern Dalmatia, around Dubrovnik and Peljesac.

Below are a few pointers if you favour marina stops, rather than anchorages or town ports, though many town ports have facilities almost up to marina standard and are often considerably cheaper.

Standards and Classification
All of Croatia's marinas are of a relatively high standard but Croatia classifies them by category. Category 1 indicates marinas of the highest standard, and so on. On some occasions the difference in category is just a question of whether some facilities are inside or outside the marina complex. All marinas have toilets, showers, reception, electricity and water, though in some of the more remote locations (normally islands with no natural water supply) electricity and water may be rationed to certain times. Most have cash points, exchange facilities, restaurants and bars. Some have fuel, maintenance and repair facilities, deluxe accommodation and a lot more. If you really want to spoil yourself, try Frapa, Tribunj and Lav. Marina Frapa, in Rogoznica near Trogir, is about to get an underwater restaurant, underneath its new superyacht pier, to add to its extensive facilities and nightly summer entertainment. Tribunj, not far from Šibenik, is a lovely unspoilt village with a classy marina, and Marina Lav, though a little isolated from any major town, is attached to one of Dalmatia's newest and plushest five star hotels, Le Meridien Grand Hotel Lav.

Government Owned ACI Chain
State owned ACI (Adriatic Club International) owns 21 marinas dotted around the coast. The Croatian government was well ahead of its time when it planned and conceived its network of marinas. However, in some locations, where possibilities for expansion are limited, the older marinas don't always cope so well with today's larger yachts. One of the advantages of state ownership (and this applies to Croatia's post offices and ferry services as well), is that the more remote and less profitable locations are covered (Zut and Piskera for example) though these marinas tend to be closed in winter. Those that berth in an ACI marina all year round get significant discounts on daily berthing in other ACI marinas.

Superyacht Marinas
Croatia is increasingly aiming at the luxury end of tourism and many marinas are being expanded to accommodate larger yachts. NCP Marina Mandalina will soon be Croatia’s first dedicated superyacht marina and already accommodates a number of gin palaces. Tribunj, Frapa and Lav also have good space for larger yachts and the facilities that go with it. Many other marinas will normally find a way of looking after superyacht captains or have a few dedicated superyacht berths.

Some Marinas To Watch
Recently opened Marina Preko, on Ugljan Island near Zadar was the first Croatian marina to install a purpose built pump-out system to keep the sea clean and we hope more will follow.
Šolta Island, near Split, should be getting its first marina this year, in Maslinica harbour. That's the next project for the owners of the beautifully refurbished castle, now that it is fully functioning as a luxury boutique hotel - see Croatia Online - Solta, Martinis Marchi
Dugi Rat, near Split is watching progress eagerly on the Korenat Point Development which will transform the area.
Marina Vinisce, not far from Trogir and Marina Agana has been open, closed, open and now appears to be closed again.

Staying in a marina is the most expensive option, other than leaving already comfortable floating accommodation for a hotel. Daily berth rates are normally 10% to 20% higher in July and August, some marinas reduce their rates substantially between November and March, catamarans normally cost double, and you will find that negotiation on pricing is normally fruitless, particularly in the summer season. Rates normally include fair use of electricity and water and below are some examples for 10/20 metre yachts in the shoulder season, per day.

ACI Trogir - €45/€110 per night -
Marina Kaštela - €37/€94 near Split -
Marina Preko - €44/not quoted -

Some Tips
You can expect English speaking staff, someone normally on alert to show you to your berth, and a very helpful service. You will be expected to use marina facilities over third party ones, and some marinas do not allow other service/repair companies onto their premises. Every marina has a daily weather report and will provide as much local knowledge as you need though beware, they may have a cousin working at the "best restaurant in town".

For those on a first trip wondering whether to choose marinas or not, be prepared for the fact that you may have to sacrifice some tranquility for a little more luxury. You will be tightly packed in the summer season and that might shatter the image of the deserted island that you left behind a couple of hours ago!
Today's photo is from Marina Frapa looking towards Rogoznica.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Croatia's Marmite - The Kornati Islands

When we interviewed a few of the movers and shakers in Croatia's sailing world (see Croatia Cruising Companion Recommended Reading below), two destinations recurred - Vis Island and the Kornati Islands.

Vis Island seems to get a universal thumbs up from everyone that knows it - untouched, plenty to explore inland, great food and hospitality, fascinating history, English ties.....

Comparing the Kornati Islands to "love it or hate it" marmite is brave - who wouldn't love their stark and bewitching wilderness, the seasonal rustic restaurants, the density and variety of islands and the crystal clear water? Part of the answer lies with those of a pragmatic nature trying to please everyone - though there are many lovely bays there are few child friendly beaches; the skipper and navigator will be busy counting off the islands and looking for the shallows and rocks; there aren't many places which offer much to do ashore, and over exposure to so much spectacular natural scenery can dim the senses after a while.

The Croatia Cruising Companion devotes many pages to the Kornati Islands in a conscientious attempt to identify every possible bay, anchorage, marina and port. It isn't for the Croatia Cruising Companion to try and second guess reader preferences but to make sure there is consistent and comprehensive information on all the many choices offered by the Dalmatian Coast and Islands. We referred to this in the introduction, as well as highlighting various destinations that might suit many differing tastes. However these blog pages, and Croatia's world class status as a cruising destination, have inspired many readers to make the time to share their experiences and preferences with us and we count ourselves very lucky to have such rich and valuable first hand content on this site.

As Croatia's 2009 cruising season accelerates into full swing, we hope readers will again make the time to tell us of their experiences and special finds. In the meantime here are a few readers' highlights from 2008:

Miggy and Neal review the costs of cruising Croatia
Ian Shaw explores Dalmatia with a fresh eye
Nigel Crouch names his Dalmatian highlights
Mike Forbes provides latest updates on customs clearance and regulations


Today's photo is of Opat on Kornat Island - we understand that the two rustic restaurants there are now both under common ownership.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Croatia Sailing Holidays - Recommended Reading

For obvious reasons, we'd clearly recommend the Croatia Cruising Companion as the best read and the most useful reference book once you have decided to sail Croatia's heartland - the Dalmatian Coast and Islands.

However if you're just thinking about a sailing holiday and want to know a little more about what Croatia has to offer, to beginners and experts alike, pick up a copy of Time Out's Magazine For Visitors' To Croatia and read the sailing feature. The 2009 edition of the magazine is hot of the press and widely available in Croatia, Ireland and the UK.

As author of the regular sailing feature this site's editor again has to confess to a vested interest. This year, however, we decided to base the feature on interviews with local experts - a charter company owner, the president of the Dalmatian skippers' association, a sailing school owner and the vice president of a company that is developing Croatia's first marina exclusively for superyachts in conjunction with international marina company, IGY.

These were the kind of local contacts we tapped into when we wrote the Croatia Cruising Companion and you will find their insights and tips enough to get you booking that charter holiday or sailing course immediately. Time Out's Magazine also makes for great reading in a wide range of other areas and its independent reviews on where to eat, drink and stay, are hard to beat.

We'd like to think that the Croatian Cruising Companion, as well as being a comprehensive nautical guide, is relatively unique in its onshore coverage of almost every feasible anchorage, port and marina, even on the most remote Dalmatian island. However, if you want to spend a few days onshore in the larger towns and villages throughout Croatia, inland and by the sea, you'll find a wealth of complementary information in the Visitors' Guide To Croatia. With Amazon currently offering the Croatia Cruising Companion at £17.49 (retail price £24.99) and Time Out's Visitors' Guide on sale at £5, it's hard to think of a better value investment to help you make the most of all aspects of Croatia.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Croatia Featured In Sunday Times Best Sailing Holidays For 2009

Last Sunday, 26th April 2009, the Sunday Times published an article on the best sailing holidays for 2009, in which Croatia features heavily. We're also please to see our friends at Sailing School Croatia included in their 15 "who sails where in the Med" under "learning".
Author David Wickers makes a number of insightful points in the 7 page feature, not least is the fact that a sailing holiday (with a sailing school or skipper for the inexperienced) compares more favourably on price with a hotel based holiday than many might imagine.
Link to Sunday Times for the full feature, Croatia Cruising Companion - Learning To Sail, for our last posting on Sailing School Croatia, Sailing School Croatia, to go direct to their website, and the Croatia Cruising Companion, for more details on the essential guide to sailing the Dalmatian Coast and Islands.
Thanks to Ocean Matters for today's photo of Superyacht Galatea taking in the spectacular view.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Eddie Jordan Picks Elan and Kastela Marina

Co-author, John Nash, had poll position yesterday to watch Eddie Jordan, of Formula One fame, pick up his new yacht from Marina Kastela. John’s MFS offices are based in the marina but he apparently resisted the temptation to check with Eddie that he had his copy of the Croatia Cruising Companion safely on board.

The Elan 450, registered under the Croatian Flag, was specially improved for its new owner and will no doubt feature in the many regattas that take place in Croatia, throughout the year.

Many thanks to Zlatko “Jure” Vujević for today's photo. Similar images featured on the front pages of most of the Dalmatian daily newspapers today.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Keeping The Croatian Adriatic Clean

Perhaps not the most glamourous image on this blog but being a good sailor means keeping the sea clean, and that means using pump-out facilities. Co-author John Nash runs Marina Facility Solutions a company operating from Kaštela, near Split, set up some six years ago, to service Croatia's marina industry.

Building on his established career in the international yachting and marina world, not only has John brought the best of UK manufactured marina equipment to Croatia - pontooons, water and electricity pedestals, pump-out systems and more - but he's also become an expert on Croatia's marina industry working closely with local experts on new developments and a number of other marina linked projects.

Marina Preko are, as far as we know, the first Croatian Marina to include a state of the art pump-out solution as a standard service for berth holders and guests, though some other marinas will call a tanker on request. Though Croatia has been talking about new legislation and enforcing existing legislation better, to protect its crystal seas, real results have been slow coming.

Follow this link to Euromarina to see their report, in the February 2009 issue, on a visit to Marina Preko (page 32) and learn about John's significant input into what is quite a breakthrough for those that care about the purity of Croatia's Adriatic waters.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Šolta Island

We've covered Šolta Island on pages 149 to 151 of our Croatia Cruising Companion and have just been lucky enough to spend three days there. You can read more about inland Šolta on sister site Croatia Online (this link takes you to one of a number of postings on Šolta), but we would be remiss if we didn't specifically address it, in a Cruising Companion update, on this site.

Perhaps the most important development is in Maslenica where Martinis Marchi have completed an extremely painstaking restoration of the Baroque castle on the south side of the bay. Now the exclusive hotel and lovely restaurant are preparing to open for business in a couple of months. Next project is to get the marina up and ready for business and work on that is scheduled to start in September 2009. In the meantime berthing facilities are still as written.

As far as restaurants in Maslenica are concerned, we reported that Konoba Moni claims to be open all year round though it didn't seem to be last week. In fact the only establishment that we found open was the Pizzeria at the head of the bay, Konoba Picerija Gajeta (tel 021 659 104). In the winter it's only open till 6pm but will stay open later if you book ahead. It was a very welcome sight both for a coffee break and food, as the only other restaurant we found open on the island in March was Konoba Šolta in Rogač (a short walk up the hill, tel 021 654 540/, and the only other open cafés seemed to be inland in Grohote (next to the post office) and in Rogač, the main ferry port.

Visitors to Šolta will mostly find that cash is king, post offices and tourists information are in most of the main settlements and there is just one fuel station, for cars or yacht, in Rogač, the main ferry port.

Today's photo is of the newly renovated castle, complete with heliport.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Krka Estuary Revisited - Zaton and Rasline

Once you've absorbed the historical, architectural, culinary and cultural delights of Šibenik, you could do worse than head upstream along the Krka river. In fact you could spend a week or two going inland behind Šibenik and really discover what Dalmatia is all about - see our sister site Croatia Online for more.

However, by yacht, you can head to state owned ACI Marina Skradin and use that as a base for exploring the Krka National Park and its waterfalls. On the way you'll pass under a 27 metre high road bridge - see page 108 of the Croatia Cruising Companion for a chartlet and navigational notes - and you'll also have the opportunity to check out Zaton. Though the harbour itself is quite shallow, there's a small inlet to port before you get there which is the base of the rowing club and a large restaurant. If you're lucky you may get a space on the pier, and if you're shameless you may choose to tap into the electricity that powers the street lights, as many of the locals seem to do!

Zaton itself has plenty of cafes, a few restaurants, a couple of supermarkets, a post office and a tourist board. Today we spotted a new, but so far nameless, hotel that looks ready on the outside but with the interior yet to be completed. We also saw one electricity and water pedestal, to starboard, just after the green light as you head into the bay. It's a well cared for town, with an impressive war memorial and seems to have quite a life of its own, outside the tourist season. On a lovely early spring day like today, it was positively buzzing with life.

Further upstream is Rasline without perhaps quite the same charm as Zaton but with a campsite, restaurants and bars. Navigation is challenging so perhaps its better to visit by car.

Today's photo is of the small inlet, with rowing club and restaurant, just before Zaton, looking downstream towards Šibenik, with Zaton behind us.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Ten Reasons For Sailing In Croatia

Over the last six years we've been lucky enough to experience most of what Croatia has to offer, particularly at sea. We've also had the chance to speak to a vast number 0f experts, drawn from all corners of the sailing world - visitors and locals alike. Foreigners sailing Croatia for the first time are, on the whole, spellbound by the Dalmatian Coast and Islands. Local mariners wouldn't want to go anywhere else, and trained skippers, after many years of nursing foreign charter visitors, still seem to revel in their guests' enjoyment. Here's our understanding of some of the aspects that qualify Croatia as a world class sailing destination.
1. Accessibility
In Dalmatia, you can easily visit 4 or 5 islands on a weeks's charter. You're at sea, but never very far away from land and passage distances are short.
2. Diversity
There's something for everyone within relatively close distance - party spots, deserted bays, cultural and historical sites, upscale venues or rustic restaurants.
3. Safety
There's a port for the occasional storm always close at hand. Flat waters can quickly be traded for rough seas. It's a sea faring nation with the infrastructure to suit and a geography that is designed for optimising safe enjoyment of the Adriatic.
4. Good Climate
5. Clear Waters
Enough has been said and you can read all the cliches on the internet. If you're travelling to Split from London on a clear day, sit on the right hand side of the plane (left is not quite so good) and see the outline of the islands descending into the bottom of the sea.
6. Hospitality
It's in the Dalmatian blood - there's an odd rogue wherever you go but if you behave as good and discerning guests, you're likely to be well rewarded.
7. Living History
You can sail right up to, and sometimes into, cities with a vast wealth of history, that are treated with respect rather than reverance. The history continues rather than being set aside as a spectator sport.
8. Entertainment
Traditional folk music or international Dj's - pick your spot. Better still to just pick a location and be surprised.
9. Serious Sailing
There are a huge number of regattas and competitions, mostly off season, and they are taken very seriously.
10. The Islands
You can get a taste of all that Croatia has to offer in a week or two, but you won't know it properly until you have come back several times. The inhabited islands still have a vibrant life inland, that is still almost totally undisovered. You can miss a lot chasing an itinerary from port to port.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Croatia Cruising Companion - How Does It Compare With The Competition?

As co-author of the Croatia Cruising Companion, it could be argued that this site’s editor is not best placed to draw an effective comparison with its competition. However previous experience suggests that all healthy competition should be embraced as a good thing. From a reader's point of view, hopefully specialist authors are likely to know more about the competition, and of course the subject, than most others!
Below we try and give readers the opportunity to decide for themselves, hopefully based on facts, and ordered around what we consider to be the Croatia Cruising Companion’s top five strengths.

1. Area and Content: Dalmatia - Nautical and Onshore

As far as we are aware, the Croatia Cruising Companion is the only publication covering Croatia’s sailing heartland (the Dalmatian Coast and Islands), that also includes detailed information and contact details once you get onshore. That’s over and above all the nautical information you would expect.

If you want to maximise your overall sailing and onshore experience of Croatia’s best cruising grounds, then we would suggest that the Croatia Cruising Companion has no rivals.

If you want to find out about all of Dalmatia’s islands, especially the most undiscovered, then we would suggest that the Croatia Cruising Companions offers more than most guides, sailing or otherwise.

If you prefer an excellent, highly visual, chart based, guide for navigation in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro, without too much narrative, then consider 777 Harbours and Anchorages.

If Croatia is just a small part of an Adriatic itinerary and you just want one book that covers the lot, then head for Imray’s Adriatic Pilot.

2. Local Knowledge Ashore and Afloat

John Nash has worked within the Croatian Marina industry for over 6 years. It’s a standing joke amongst John’s Croatian business contacts that they need to talk to him to find out what’s happening in the industry – new marina facilities, change in transit prices, additional breakwaters, etc. John is also an experienced round the world sailor and spotted Croatia’s intrinsic potential as a world class cruising destination long before most others.

Whilst writing the Croatia Cruising Companion, Jane Cody became involved in many other Croatian projects – she’s working on Time Out's Visitors’ Guide To Croatia for the fourth consecutive year – feature writing and area reviews - and last year she wrote a book supplement on Croatia for Boat International.We aren’t aware of any other authors of comparable publications that are, and have been, so intensely immersed in Croatian nautical and tourism matters, let alone have a base in Croatia. We hope the results speak for themselves.

3. Up To Date

Part of the joy of spending so much time in Croatia is that it is one long voyage of discovery. The more you get to know it, the more there is to learn, and this site is for nautical news and updates. Sister site Croatia Online was conceived a little earlier and now has over 3 years worth of postings on Croatia. We are lucky that our blogs have attracted some delightful readers, who have made the time to provide valuable additional first hand information. Many have become friends. Again we’re not aware of any similar product that is as up to date.

4. Publication Quality

Quality issues are highly subjective and therefore we must refrain from much comment other than to say that the Croatia Cruising Companion’s 256 A4 pages are packed with photos, port plans and detailed information.

We’re also told “it’s a good read” and that a good number of landlubbers have also enjoyed dipping in and out of it when contemplating their next ideal summer break.

5. General Information - Introduction

The 23 pages of introduction cover cruising strategies, weather, navigational matters, safety, boat maintenance information (including contact details for engine, sail, hull, electronic and other repairs), a guide to the Croatian language and pronunciation, communications information, “getting there” details, and background information on provisioning, entertainment, beaches, rules and regulations, health matters, etc. Again we struggle to identify rivals in this respect.

Pricing and Amazon Ratings

The Croatia Cruising Companion retails at £ 24.99, the Adriatic Pilot at £32.50, and 777 Harbours and Anchorages at £28.50. Last time we looked for the Croatian Hydrographic Pilot it cost 330 kn (about £35).

At the time of writing, price and ratings on Amazon UK were as follows:

Croatia Cruising Companion – £17.49. Ranked 4 (Croatia), 18 (Sailing), 12,384 (books)

Imray Adriatic Pilot - £32.50. Ranked 71 (Italy), 36 (Sailing), 22,002 (Books)

777 Harbours and Anchorages – not listed on Amazon

HHI Pilot – not listed on Amazon.


Standing back as far as we can, Croatia, particularly Dalmatia, is now readily acknowledged as one of the world’s best cruising grounds and if that’s the place you want to explore, in depth for a week or two (and it takes years to distil it properly!), then we think the Croatia Cruising Companion is just that – the one and only book you’ll need, devoted to the best of the Adriatic.

If you'd like to cover a wider area – on a delivery or passage perhaps - then there’s more of a choice for just that one book but, of course, some detail has to be sacrificed for the bigger quantity of coverage.